While there is no doubting that virtualization is not only a technology to watch, but one that will move into the mainstream real soon now, there remains a question of just how soon that will actually be. A new survey by emedia suggests that the timescale for making that move, at least as far as 50 percent of the IT professionals it asked, is within the next 18 months.
However, it is the reasons why virtualization is not working for more people right now that interest me more. The indication, for example, that 52 percent of people questioned are concerned with the new security challenges the technology introduces. Challenges such as patching and updates which concerned 32 percent and guest-to-guest attacks 27 percent. Mind you, when pressed the same IT professionals were quick to admit that they can overcome these threats with staff training (51 percent), firewalls (30 percent) and network separation (25 percent.)
Yet even these concerns are not what is really holding back the move to virtualization, it is much more straightforward than that and can be summed up as where is the beef? The simple lack of a compelling business case for total cost of ownership and of course getting a return on the investment, cost and budget restraints and insufficient staff expertise can all come to the front of the real world obstacles queue. I suspect that it is that first combination of TCO and ROI that will continue to hold back the virtualization charge, especially as 49 percent of those questioned insisted that reduced cost of ownership was the most important purchasing criteria.
David Clark, Managing Director at emedia, concludes that “the advantages of virtualization appear to be tantalising but it seems that IT managers approach it with caution" which, it seems to me, is something of an understatement.
Even if you move out of the strictly business arena and into the home user market, virtualization looks like it is hitting more stumbling blocks as Microsoft announces it will not, after all, open up Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium to be used in this way.
Reports are emerging that the previous briefing given to select US journalists suggesting that the entire Vista family would be allowed to be used for virtualization has now been reversed. “Microsoft has reassessed the Windows virtualization policy and decided that we will maintain the original policy announced last fall” the company now insists, although no clear cut reasons are given for the change of heart. Mac OS X users running Boot Camp or Parallels will have to use the more expensive Vista Business or Vista Ultimate editions, which funnily enough can be used within a virtualization environment.